Tuesday, January 1, 2013


This morning as I opened my eyes after a night of blissful dreams, I bid farewell to the holidays and set my gaze on a nascent new year and all that it might unfurl before me in the weeks and months to come. I pondered the lucky “13,” and wondered if life and its many experiences throughout 2013 would be any different from all years both past and to come.

As I got out of bed, and turned on the TV, I happened to catch one of the many commercials currently airing that promote America’s financial cooperatives—credit unions. The spot is part of a national branding campaign cooperatively managed and sponsored by credit union associations, credit union leagues, and food and electrical co-ops. It seems collaboration among all cooperatives has become the new norm, emerging from what many have discovered to be a golden opportunity for growth in both membership and services, coming of course, at the expense of corporations and big banks and the growing anger and mistrust consumers have of them.

Yes, life among cooperatives has changed dramatically. Now when I receive a check from any credit union organization and look at the name of the issuing financial institution, I no longer see the word, “bank.” Credit unions have not only learned to keep their money within the system, they also have come to realize that if they are to promote the value of their model over one benefitting shareholders, they ought to maintain their business checking accounts at another financial cooperative, not at a bank.

Credit unions and cooperatives are also applying the same mindset when it comes to staffing vacancies and selecting vendors. Going outside of the cooperative system no longer makes sense when there are already talented people within the system who bear allegiance to the cooperative business model and who are unemployed and eager to work. It’s no longer acceptable to look for products and services outside of the cooperative business model when there are already CUSOs and vendors within the system that can offer pricing and expert services exclusively aligned at meeting the needs of cooperatives. Why pay more and go outside of the system we now ask ourselves, when the same services or talent can be tapped from among credit unions and cooperatives at a much cheaper price and so many times at a value no one else can offer. 

In this new age of 2013, walking the talk has become the mantra for credit unions. We have seen that by holding ourselves ever more closely to the principles and values we espouse as a business model, we have finally not only discovered our true value proposition but have further developed a reputation for integrity and social justice within the American marketplace. And, it’s that reputation that’s attracting the attention and trust of consumers in ways that are startling Wall Street and inciting a new look at corporate America’s code of ethics . . .

BUZZZZZ, BUZZZZZ, BUZZZZZ. With a nice big yawn, I hit the snooze button and rolled over onto my side pondering the lucky “13,” and wondering if life and its many experiences throughout 2013 would be any different from all years both past and to come.

May all your dreams for 2013 come true! Happy New Year!

1 comment:

  1. You and your readers may be interested in my new book, Development of the Modern U.S. Credit Union Movement 1970-2010.

    It explores the transformation of many American credit unions from small, limited service institutions run largely by volunteers to today's full-service, professionally staffed institutions serving more than 90 million members.

    It chronicles the factors that have moved credit unions into the mainstream of American life. These factors include legal and regulatory developments, technological changes, new products and services, and competitive pressures.

    The 379-page book discusses the impact of these developments on credit union size, structure, and philosophy. It places credit unions in the context of the nation's major economic events and trends, from the Great Inflation of the 1970s to the S&L debacle of the 1980s to the Great Recession of late 2007-2009. Among other things, it touches on the role of credit unions in community development and African-American and feminist history. It also gives a detailed description of two historic credit union frauds -- Hyfin Credit Union and Franklin Federal Credit Union.

    I am a journalist and student of credit union history. I served as speechwriter for the leadership of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) from 1986 to 1998. I am a certified Credit Union Development Educator (CUDE). In preparation for writing the book, I interviewed many credit union leaders and studied the extensive written record of the period.

    The book is available in softcover and e-book version from lulu.com. The e-book version can be read on the Ipad and on Barnes and Noble's Nook Reader, and on personal computers equipped with free Adobe Digital Edition or Nook software down loadable from the Web.

    Development of the Modern U.S. Credit Union Movement has won praise from early readers:

    "The best credit union history I've read." Dan Mica, president of the Credit Union National Association, 1996-2010.

    "Entertaining . . . A very fine history of the credit union movement." Wendell (Bucky) Sebastian, Executive Director, National Credit Union Foundation, former CEO of GTE Federal Credit Union, and former Executive Director, NCUA.

    "Most comprehensive and well-written account of the past 40 years of credit union development . . . Should be required reading . . ." Matt Cropp, credit union historian, author of "The Vermont Credit Union League: A Brief History."

    Paul Thompson